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Just washing your hands could save Nepali lives is the message on Global Handwashing Day

Kathmandu, 15 October 2009 – Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Physical Planning and Works, Bijaya Kumar Gachhadhar launched the second Global Handwashing Day on 15 October at Nepal Administrative Staff College, Jawalakhel, today.

To mark the event, three ministries, the Ministry of Physical Planning and Works, Ministry of Health, and Ministry of Local Development have already signed a joint commitment paper to promote sanitation and hygiene in schools with child and gender friendly facilities.

A survey conducted in 2004 showed that only 17 percent of the population in Nepal washed their hands after defecation. “Hand washing with soap is the easiest and cheapest way to reduce child mortality,” says UNICEF Nepal Representative, Gillian Mellsop. “Studies have shown that newborn lives can be saved if birth attendants and mothers wash their hands with soap before delivering and touching babies.”

“UNICEF recognises the potential of children to really help persuade people to understand the simple importance of washing hands,” added Ms. Mellsop. “We are mobilizing child clubs, youth groups and student focus groups to promote hand washing and act as change agents in their schools, families and communities.”

During Global Handwashing Week, UNICEF is supporting various innovative activities in many districts of Nepal. These activities include demonstrations on the best way to wash hands with soap in schools and communities, hand washing festivals, slide shows in major cinema halls, song and slogan competitions and developing hand washing with soap model schools.

The events and the activities planned throughout the country this week will complement activities already taking place across the country as part of International Year of Sanitation. Hand washing with soap is being promoted regularly through School Sanitation and Hygiene Education (SSHE) and School Led Total Sanitation programme in more than 2000 schools at 15 UNICEF supported districts of Nepal.

For further information, please contact:

John Brittain, Chief of Communication, Tel: 5523200, ext. 1182, Email –

Ashma Shrestha Basnet, Communication Officer, Tel: 5523200, ext. 1172, Email –



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